Misfit Juicery fights US food waste using ‘ugly’ fruit and vegetables

By Mary Ellen Shoup

- Last updated on GMT

Misfit Juicery uses less than perfect-looking fruit and vegetables to create its cold-pressed juice products.
Misfit Juicery uses less than perfect-looking fruit and vegetables to create its cold-pressed juice products.

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Cold-pressed juice startup and recipient of the Chobani Incubator Program Award, Misfit Juicery, is fighting the 20 billion lbs of annual food waste by sourcing fruits and vegetables that do not meet the cosmetic standards of retailers. 

Misfit Juicery was founded in January 2015 by full-time college students Ann Yang and Phil Wong. It now distributes to close to 50 retail locations in the DC area. In late April 2016, the company expanded to NYC with Eataly as its flagship account. In late July of 2016, Blue Hill started selling Misfit juice at their Café and Grain Bar at the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture.

This month, Misfit Juicery was accepted as one of the six startups of Chobani’s inaugural Food Incubator program. As part of the six-month program, the company will receive a $25,000 grant, monthly mentorship programs at Chobani locations across the US, and an opportunity to showcase their products at EXPO West Natural Food Conference in March 2017. 

Giving ‘misfit’ produce a chance

Misfit is fighting food waste by sourcing “misfit” ​fruit and vegetables, that do not meet the aesthetic standard of retailers in the US, from produce farmers.

“A carrot may have two legs, an apple might be dimpled, a cucumber might be slightly discolored — all of this leads to ‘grade outs’ in the food system,”​ the company said.

According to the company, up to one-third of a farmer’s total harvest is lost due to the aesthetic standards of retailers.

Goal to spark discourse

The Misfit brand was created to spark discourse about the food system and to change current notions and perceptions about how food should look and how food is valued.

“Contrary to popular perception, misfit fruits and vegetables are as fresh and delicious as their perfect counterparts. 70% to 80% of Misfit’s products are sourced from ugly and surplus sources,”​ the company said.

In addition to the $25,000 in grant funds provided by Chobani, Misfit Juicery is currently raising a seed round of $500,000 to support its expansion and growth.

Giving back to the community

Misfit currently employs a kitchen production team of five people and works with DC non-profits, DC Central Kitchen and Jubilee Jobs, to hire its employees. Both of these non-profits provide job opportunities to individuals who face barriers to employment.

Additionally, Misfit has worked with The Capital Area Food Bank, National Geographic and Sweetgreen various marketing and education initiatives to help raise awareness about the issue of preventable food waste in the US.

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